From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

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A new study of cohort attrition, and ways to reduce it, has commenced.

New Study: Attrition in MRC Cohort Studies

posted on: Jun 21, 2007


Background to the study

Longitudinal cohort studies follow a group of individuals over a period of time, often many years. They can be used to study the incidence of disease and health behaviours, and the aetiology of many diseases.

Study participant recruitment and retention strategies are a vital part of the cohort study process. Poor strategies may lead to both selective recruitment and attrition. This limits how generalisable the findings are, and can result in biased estimates of association, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions and over/underestimations of study effects.


The 'Maximising Return from Cohorts' Study


This study has three main objectives:

  • to examine the methods used to maintain participation in cohort studies
  • to identify best practice for reducing differential attrition
  • to investigate and disseminate methodologies suitable for the analysis of cohort studies suffering from attrition under different circumstances


Work has just started on the evaluation of retention strategies in MRC funded cohort studies. This project is funded by the MRC's Population Health Sciences Research Network (PHSRN) and jointly run from the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) in Glasgow and the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) in Cambridge.


The researchers involved in this study are: Cara Booker, Seeromanie Harding and Alastair Leyland who are based at the SPHSU in Glasgow, and Ian White who is based at the BSU in Cambridge.